Russia Still Going About Things All Wrong, and More in our Scientology Stats Roundup

Back in October, we reported that Russian law enforcement agents had raided a Church of Scientology in Moscow, breaking down doors to get into store rooms (see the photo at right).

A court there had found L. Ron Hubbard's literature to be "extremist," and called for a ban on his books in Russia. Yesterday, we learned that a regional court has upheld that decision.

Can someone please explain to me, why are the Russians so stupid?

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Scientology's Future History! A Vision from 1969, and our Stats Roundup

On Thursdays, Scientologists race to turn in their weekly stats, and we like to do the same, looking at how the church has fared around the world.

This week, before we get to a couple of press items, we're going to start with something special.

One of our tipsters sent us something that we always get a kick out of -- a vision of the future written in the past.

In this case, Scientology's Advance! magazine envisioned what the year 2010 would be like, from back in those heady days of 1969, when Scientology was in its heyday, considered cool by some, and, as we've pointed out before, could maybe even get you laid.

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Scientology + Nation of Islam Charter School to be Exorcised from the Earth Forever and Ever

If I say "love child," will your head spin around 360 degrees?
What we've learned from years of reporting on Scientology is that if you don't watch carefully, it will get its tentacles into your school district or worm its way into your local city council chambers or somehow use one of its "secular" front groups to fool some other group of chuckleheads who don't see it coming from a mile away. However, that's getting a bit tougher for the church as more and more people seem to be keeping a vigilant eye on its every move.

Take the Tampa Bay Times, for example. We already knew about Joe Childs and Tom Tobin, the formidable duo who really ought to win some big prizes for their latest blockbuster series, "The Money Machine." But who knew the paper was nursing another great talent like this Drew Harwell fellow?

Harwell comes along and not only exposes a frightening bit of mold growing under a rock -- the surreptitious takeover of a Florida charter school by the unholy alliance of a Scientology front group and members of the Nation of Islam -- but in a little more than a week, his thorough expose has resulted in local school officials moving rapidly to close the abomination down.

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Nightline's Scientology "Exclusive": What was Exclusive About It, Exactly?

I had a strange and powerful case of déjà vu last night while watching Nightline's interview with Debbie Cook as she talked about being held in "the Hole" at Scientology's international base in California, where executives who fall out of favor with church leader David Miscavige are sent to rot in an office-prison for weeks, months, even years at a time.

Well, OK, it wasn't really déjà vu I was experiencing. Which fancy French term do you use when you're seeing a news organization claim it has an "EXCLUSIVE" on an interview that quite a few of us other journalists have already heard numerous times before?

I don't know. Anyone out there good with French? Anyone know how to say "cringeworthy mainstream media epic fail"?

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Scientology Demands the Right to Employ Slaves in Australia While Getting Puff Pieces in DC, Florida

Still waiting to hear from you, Tom: your church is arguing on your behalf for slave wages for Sea Org members, man. Nice naval hat, though.
On Thursdays, Scientologists race to get their weekly stats in, so we like to do the same by totaling up how the church fared internationally in the past seven days. This week, in particular, we saw a wild divergence in the way Scientology got treated by the press, and so we're going to share that with you in this Thursday Stats Roundup.

We're starting in Australia, where we reported last year that the country's Fair Work Ombudsman has been looking into the way Scientology works people incredibly long hours for almost no pay. That investigation ended up in the church's favor, as the Ombudsman found that several former church members complaining about how they were treated had either been out of Scientology too long, or had volunteered their time.

But now, the Daily Telegraph in Sydney has reported, a local representative for the church sent the Fair Work review a letter telling the government to keep its mitts off of Scientology's holy (and wholly unpaid) laborers.

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Debbie Cook Files to Dissolve Scientology's Temporary Restraining Order: We Talk To Her Attorney, Ray Jeffrey

Ray Jeffrey, just hired as Debbie Cook's attorney
Yesterday, Debbie Cook began her defense against Scientology's lawsuit which seeks $300,000 in damages because she dared to speak out to her fellow church members in an e-mail sent on New Year's Eve.

Cook, through her newly hired San Antonio attorney, Ray B. Jeffrey, filed to dissolve the temporary restraining order that Scientology was granted a week ago which prevents her from talking to anyone -- even her own husband -- about the case or about Scientology. Friday morning, a hearing will be held over Cook's motion, but we are learning that the real fireworks are coming next Thursday, when a hearing about a temporary injunction will give Cook the opportunity to introduce evidence that Jeffrey characterizes as "beyond the pale of what a human being should endure."

We spoke at length with Jeffrey today about Cook's plans to fight back against Scientology, and about his own preparations for what he acknowledges is likely to be a long, and brutal contest.

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Scientology Spokeswoman Who Disconnected From Her Father Criticizes Scientology Victim Who Didn't

On Thursdays, we bring you Scientology news from around the globe. And this week, we were planning to note that Australia's television program A Current Affair had done a nice job on a story we brought you earlier, about Ramana Dienes-Browning and her hellish 8 years on Scientology's private cruise ship, the Freewinds.

But then, our plans for a brief item about the Australian program changed, as we learned more about the chatty church spokeswoman who appears in it, Virginia Stewart...

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Scientology, Winning! We Hear from the Church's #1 Student

On Thursdays, Scientology's staff members race to get their statistics turned in by 2 pm, the end of their week. Here at the Voice, we do the same thing, rounding up the world's media on Scientology each Thursday and deciding whether the church has had an "upstat" or "downstat" week. [Go here for our primer, "What is Scientology?"]

We're going to do something different this time, however. The first two weeks of 2012 have been disastrous for Scientology, what with former high-ranking official Debbie Cook e-mailing thousands of her fellow church members in what amounts to a call of rebellion that will further rip apart an organization splitting at the seams, and this week, a leak of major proportions: images of the outlandish and weird things planned for the "Super Power Building" that is slated to become Scientology's "Mecca" this year.

There's been so much "entheta" that is sure to "enturbulate" Scientologists (translation: negative press that is going to mess with their minds), we figured it was time to reverse the tide. And so, today, we're going to give Scientology a pure win, an upstat it is dearly in need of. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Michael Doven, perhaps the church's greatest living student of L. Ron Hubbard's technology!

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All Scientologists Look Alike, Right? -- And More in our Weekly Stats Roundup!

Is that a famous Scientologist we spy?
Every Thursday at 2 pm, Scientology staff members race to turn in their weekly statistics. We like to do the same by rounding up the week's Scientology news from around the world and weigh how the church is doing.

We're going to start this week with a nice journalistic screwup by, a gossipy website that just loves to capture celebrities for candid photos.

And yesterday, they got a big scoop! Tom Cruise on a super-dope motorcycle zipping around Beverly Hills!

Er, um, sorry guys. Wrong dude. After the jump, we show you how X17online fucked up.

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Scientology Goes Upstat for the Final News Roundup of the Year (And Why We're Grateful)

Feeling upstat, feeling sexy!
On Thursdays, we like to put together a rundown of stories related to Scientology watching from around the world. We do this on Thursdays, because it's that day when Scientologists rush to turn in their weekly stats.

Most of the time, those stories are embarrassing for the church and cast Scientology in a harsh light. We say that those items are "downstat" in the church's own parlance.

But this week, our last news roundup of the year, Scientology scored some significant "upstat" stories to finish out 2011 on a high note.

We're relieved. So much bad news was reported here at Runnin' Scared this year, and we didn't mean to give the impression that Scientology is on the ropes. Far from it. The church is still a sizable organization with plenty of resources (read = money), and particularly in legal affairs it is tenacious as a bulldog.

And that's good news for us. Because this Scientology watching racket is just too much fun to end any time soon. After the jump, we'll look at the church's recent victories...

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